March 14 (UPI) — The GOP is gearing up to challenge Pennsylvania’s District 18 results and seeking to impound all the voting machines used in Tuesday’s election, which gave Democrat Conor Lamb a slight lead over Republican Rick Saccone.
Republican officials are alleging voting irregularities in the congressional race, which was too close to call Wednesday with absentee ballots waiting to be counted to determine the winner. Lamb, just before 1 a.m. declared victory, a spot he still holds midday by 579 votes.
“It took a little longer than we thought, but we did it. You did it,” Lamb told supporters in Canonsburg, Pa.
Even with a margin that close, state law does not require an automatic recount in congressional races. But parties can request it after all the votes are tallied.
A statement by the National Republican Congressional Committee said it was confident Saccone will take the lead in the end.
“This race is too close to call and we’re ready to ensure that every legal vote is counted. Once they are, we’re confident Rick Saccone will be the newest Republican member of Congress,” said NRCC communications director Matt Gorman. “The NRCC is proud of our efforts in this race to promote Rick’s message, motivate Republican voters and hold Conor Lamb accountable.”
Saccone said late Tuesday that if the counting of provisional and military absentee ballots failed to bring victory his campaign could seek a recount.
“We are still fighting the fight. It’s not over yet,” he said.
The race — in which a Lamb victory would flip the Republican seat — is considered a bellwether for the November midterms. President Donald Trump handily won the district in 2016 over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
Rep. Tim Murphy vacated the seat in October after a scandal involving a staffer.
The winner of the race will serve out the remaining 10 months of Murphy’s term, but will have to win a new district to continue in November — after an anti-gerrymandering decision last month by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court that realigned congressional boundaries.
Jakob Lazzaro of Medill News Service contribute to this report.